Nintendo is an unusual company in that they are the most innovative when it comes to trying out new concepts, yet are the most stubborn when it comes to recognizing the latest trends in the industry.
Nintendo was a step behind the competition when it came to using optical media for their games, embracing the Internet, and offering high-definition visuals for their games. By the same token, it also revolutionized the industry many times over, by essentially creating the handheld market and bringing gaming to the mainstream with motion controls.
The history of video gaming is lined with Nintendo's achievements. The industry as we know it wouldn't exist without the deeds of Nintendo, which helped to shape an entire medium. Beneath these glorious moments are several footnotes which have caused gamers to shrug their shoulders and wonder: "what was Nintendo thinking?"
We are here today to look at the most baffling business decisions ever made by Nintendo-- from the petty attack at its competition that could have destroyed the industry to the many terrible choices that led to the Wii U.
Here are the 15 Most Shocking Things Nintendo Has Ever Done!
15 It Sold Out Sega
The future of the video game industry was hanging in the balance in 1993 due to an outcry caused by the violence in games like Night Trap and the home console release of Mortal Kombat on Sega systems. This led to a congressional hearing, which resulted in the creation of the ESRB.
Representatives from both Nintendo and Sega appeared at the congressional hearing. Instead of siding with its competitor in order to create a united front, Nintendo chose to use the hearings in order to attack Sega.
Howard Lincoln used the hearings to point out that Nintendo had never allowed violent games (like Night Trap) on its system. Lincoln brought up the fact that the Super Nintendo version of Mortal Kombat was heavily censored, even though Sega refused to do so in order to increase their profits.
Nintendo ultimately sided with those who supported censorship in order to damage Sega's reputation.
14 The War Against Streamers
One of the ways in which Nintendo has been willfully ignorant over the past few years is with its policy towards streamers. Nintendo has done its best to ensure that no one but itself profits from video reviews or people streaming their games.
Having a popular streamer play your game can be worth a ton of free advertising. Would sub-par games like Five Nights at Freddy's or PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds have ever found an audience if it weren't for streaming?
Companies like Sony have been embracing streaming on their systems, which has helped Sony to make the PlayStation 4 the best-selling console of this generation, while Nintendo just keeps putting its head in the sand.
The recent update for the Switch has finally allowed brief video snippets to be uploaded online, which suggests that Nintendo is finally wising up, but this decision might be too little too late.
13 Players Need A Phone For Voice Chat On The Switch
The Nintendo Switch has exceeded everyone's expectations in terms of sales, critical response, and quality of the games. However, the system still does have a few technical problems that hold it back, such as limited internal space that requires you to buy an SD card if you prefer digital games.
One of the biggest issues regarding the Switch is Nintendo's implementation of voice chat. You need a smartphone with the Nintendo Switch app installed in order to be able to communicate with your friends. The process is so annoying that you may as well just use something like Discord instead.
The Nintendo Switch also doesn't support Bluetooth headphones, as it already uses Bluetooth for the controllers. It is possible to use USB headphones (with the official PlayStation headphones working straight out of the box) but you will need a USB adapter to use them in handheld mode.
12 The Removal Of Mexican Mario Actually Offended People
The population of the Sand Kingdom in Super Mario Odyssey uses a design that is inspired by the Mexican Day of the Dead. This means that they are skeletal creatures that wear traditional Mexican clothes. It's possible for Mario to purchase these clothes during his adventures in the Sand Kingdom, which is a form that has been dubbed "Mexican Mario."
Mexican Mario originally appeared on the box art for Super Mario Odyssey. This drew complaints online, as it was felt that Mario's outfit might be seen as a negative stereotype.
Nintendo removed Mexican Mario from the box art... which prompted an even bigger response from fans of the game from Mexico, who actually liked the fact that Mario was representing their country in the game.
11 The Wii Music Presentation At E3 2008
There is no denying that people look dumb when playing motion controlled games. This was part of the fun of games like Wii Sports, as you got to watch your friends and relatives flail their arms around wildly in an attempt to hit a digital tennis ball.
One of the problems with using the Wiimote is that it always looked dumb when Nintendo used them during their presentations, such as in Nintendo Directs or at E3.
In 2008, Nintendo created a virtual orchestra of people playing Wii Music. This involved lots of Nintendo staff members (including Shigeru Miyamoto himself) pretending to play fake instruments on a stage.
Their performance has gone on to be regarded as the dorkiest moment ever at E3, which did Wii Music no favors in terms of promotion.
10 The Bizarre Censorship Of Tharja
Nintendo was once the strictest company when it came to censoring games. Its policies eventually alienated companies like Squaresoft and Capcom during the 32-bit era, which finally convinced it to start loosening its rules.
Nowadays, if Nintendo censors a game in one region, then it will usually make gaming headlines. One of the recent examples of this happened with the "Summer Scramble" DLC for Fire Emblem: Awakening on the Nintendo 3DS.
The European and Japanese versions of the game allowed you to see a cutscene of Tharja wearing a bikini. However, the North American version of the game censored this scene by shoddily editing a towel over her backside. They also blocked any attempt to share the image on Miiverse.
The fact that Nintendo censored this scene only brought more attention to it, as the company was mocked all across the Internet for what seemed to be a pointless bit of censorship.
9 The Star Fox Zero Debacle
One of the biggest problems with the Wii U was that it often forced games to use the GamePad, even if it interfered with the gameplay. One of the best things about Splatoon 2 and Pokkén Tournament DX is that they are no longer shackled to the GamePad and can become truly competitive games without using a needlessly bulky setup.
No other game suffered more from required GamePad support than Star Fox Zero. You were constantly forced to switch your focus between the GamePad and the TV, as the GamePad was used to target the enemies, which required the use of the gyroscopic controls in order to aim.
This turned what should have been a simple experience into one that was needlessly complex. Star Fox Zero was reamed in the reviews due to its unintuitive control scheme, which is a shameful reason coming from a Nintendo game.
8 The Horrifying NES Commercial In Australia
The advent of home consoles solidified the 8-bit era as one where the games were sold to children, as companies like Nintendo advertised their machines as if they were toys.
This wasn't the case in Australia, though, as Nintendo released a terrifying commercial in the region that was meant to advertise the NES and its accessories. The ad featured horrifying 3D recreations of the Duck Hunt Dog, Bowser, Lakitu, and one of the enemies from Gyromite, as they screech about how you cannot beat them, no matter how skilled you become.
These 3D representations are led by a Polar Express-level human that has emerged from the depths of the uncanny valley.
They all come together at the end of the commercial and challenge you, whilst affixing you with their unblinking stare. Did Nintendo really think that this would convince kids to ask their parents for a NES?
7 Ron Jeremy Was Way Better Than Bob Hoskins
There have been adult parodies of almost every major media franchise now. This is because they define themselves as parodies, which means that the producers cannot be sued.
They are made because the producers also know that websites will share their teaser videos, as an article about a revealing movie based on something like Star Wars is guaranteed clicks.
In 1993, Ron Jeremy starred in two adult movies that were based on the Super Mario games. Super Hornio Brothers (and its sequel) tells the story of a computer programmer who becomes trapped in one of his computer games, which somehow results in him getting it on with other characters.
Nintendo actually spent money on acquiring the rights to these movies in order to ensure that they are never seen again. This is despite the fact that there is a deluge of revealing pictures and videos of their characters online.
6 There Are Not Enough Arms To Use A Nintendo 64 Controller
Anyone who has used a joystick from the '80s or a terrible third-party controller can vouch for the fact that comfort is an important aspect when designing a joypad. This is why Sony has barely changed the design of their joypad since the original Dual Analog Controller.
Nintendo was responsible for the worst official controller of any major system. This was because you didn't have enough arms to comfortably use the system.
Every game had its own method for using the controller that you had to discover, which wasn't helped by the numerous amounts of unnecessary buttons. A second joystick might have made the controller easy to use, as the C buttons were uncomfortable to aim with in games like GoldenEye 007.
Nintendo would later come under fire for the Wiimote and the GamePad, but they pale in comparison to the N64 controller.
5 The Rarest Property Of All
Nintendo's greatest third-party supporter used to be Rare. They created the Donkey Kong Country games and Killer Instinct for the Super Nintendo, which became some of the biggest hits on the system.
When other companies like Squaresoft were abandoning Nintendo during the 32-bit era, Rare was making amazing games for the Nintendo 64, such as Banjo-Kazooie and Jet Force Gemini.
Fans had long speculated that Nintendo would eventually purchase Rare and bring them into the fold. This was a sentiment shared by the founders of Rare, as they were expecting Nintendo to make a push to buy them. In the end, Nintendo let this opportunity pass them by, which allowed Microsoft to purchase Rare in 2002.
This business decision has prevented Nintendo from creating sequels to some of their greatest games and forces it to have to deal with one of their competitors on business matters relating to older games.
4 The Horrible Wii Sports Resort Presentation
The Wii Music presentation at E3 2008 was cringeworthy, but at least the presenters flailing their limbs around wildly kept their mouths closed. It turns out that the Wii Music presentation wasn't even the most embarrassing thing that Nintendo did that year.
In order to promote the upcoming release of Wii Sports Resort and the MotionPlus peripheral that it required, we got to see some of Nintendo's executives playing the game live on stage.
Reggie might be beloved by the Nintendo fans, but his attempts at playing the jetski game in Wii Sports Resort has only damaged his legacy, as he looked like he didn't know what he was doing while piloting his invisible machine on the stage.
He was then forced to swing the Wiimote around like Star Wars Kid as he had a fake sword fight with one of the other Nintendo executives. The Wii Music segment seems almost dignified by comparison.
3 The Rapping Zeldas
Video games are a relatively new medium. As such, there were no guidelines for how best to advertise games for the longest time. This led to a lot of the 8/16-bit games appealing to '90s sensibilities, which included things like skateboarding and rapping. Things got worse in the 32-bit era when games started to resort to fanservice in their adverts.
One of the most unusual ways in which Nintendo has advertised their series is with the rap videos that were meant to promote The Legend of Zelda games. There is the infamous Japanese commercial for A Link to the Past that was heavily-inspired by the video for "Thriller" by Michael Jackson. Which features a rap song about the game.
2 It Ignored Europe During The 8/16-Bit Eras
There are a lot of older gamers who remember the war between Nintendo and Sega throughout the '90s. The video game industry has become a lot more cordial since then, but there are those who long for the days of arguing about bits and ads that attack their competitors.
The 16-bit war had a lot more competition in the UK and throughout Europe. This was because there was a lot of home computers that could also play games on the market, such as the ZX Spectrum, the Commodore 64, and the various models of the Amiga.
Nintendo pretty much abandoned Europe during this era, which allowed Sega to gain dominance in the marketplace. Nintendo consoles were released months later than the other regions and many third-party games never saw a release outside of America or Japan. Nintendo didn't get its act together in Europe until the GameCube era.
1 The Hubris That Led To The Wii U
Nintendo is the third-most valuable company in Japan. It would take a string of catastrophic failures to deal serious damage to the company. Luckily for Nintendo, it has only had to endure one such failure in recent years: the Wii U.
The Wii U was created out of pure hubris. Nintendo felt that the Wii name was strong enough to bring the mainstream audience back, even though the system lacked the gimmick of the original Wii.
When this failed, they were left scrambling to win back the gaming crowd and were left with an underpowered system that fared poorly compared to competition.
The failure of the Wii U in terms of sales caused the third-party developers to abandon Nintendo, which meant that the system was being held aloft by some amazing first-party games that were shackled to a system that not many people owned.
Did the Wii U deserve its fate? The console certainly had some amazing games, but it was Nintendo's misjudgment of the industry that led to the system not taking off with the general public. We can only hope that the recent success of the Nintendo Switch is going to signify a new golden era for Nintendo games, where the company makes less dumb decisions than they have in the past.
Cam you think of any other shocking things that Nintendo has done? Sound off in the comments!